Philosophy majors do incredibly well while on the job. Based on a survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, employers reported that the most attractive qualities in employees are things that take time and attention to build up– and, Philosophy is the place to build these qualities.
The excerpts provided below come courtesy of the Chronicle of Higher Education, summarizing the survey results linked above.
…93 percent of the employers surveyed said that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.” They were not saying that a student’s major does not matter, but that, overwhelmingly, the thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills a job candidate has acquired in college are more important than the specific field in which the applicant earned a degree. Looking at successful leaders in business and in the nonprofit sector, you find that they have majored in everything under the sun. Many ended up, by choice, pursuing careers in fields other than the one in which they majored.
…the association’s survey found that “more than nine in 10″ employers surveyed said it was important that job candidates “demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning. More than 75 percent of employers say they want more emphasis on five key areas, including critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.”
If we were to summarize the survey results, we might say that employers want the knowledge and skills that will be crucial not only to a student’s first job, but also to his or her second, third, and fourth jobs. They want a student who has learned how to learn and how to adapt flexibly to rapidly changing demands. They’re not all that concerned about specific majors or things like what gets academic credit and what does not.
A recent Wall Street Journal study on income over time found that the pay gap between those who majored in Philosophy and their science and engineering cohorts tends to shrink over time. In fact, Philosophy majors ranked #1 for increase between starting and mid-career median salary, an average bump of 103.5%. The study also found that half of all Philosophy majors make more than $81,000 after the first 10 years on the job.
Philosophy majors cultivate skills that foster innovation and productivity across fields, rather than limiting their focus to job or technology specific skills. So how about getting a job?
Getting a Job
Let’s get the painful truth out of the way– studying Philosophy does not guarantee you a job out of college. The honest answer is that no major does in fact guarantee a job.
While Philosophy, perhaps most of all liberal arts majors, does not qualify you for a unique set of jobs, it leaves open the possibility for you to do anything– quite literally. Studying Philosophy will enable you to excel at whatever you do.
As you prepare to enter the workforce, we recommend taking advantage of resources offered by the BU Career Services to make sure you have an attractive resume and sharpened interview skills before you go looking for work. Bear in mind that most employers will look for relevant work experience and previous job recommendations, so it is in your best interest to pursue internships or work opportunities to make yourself stand out.
Below is an infographic summarizing how college grads get hired, taken from “Revenge of the Liberal Arts Major” by J. Jennings Moss.
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